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Author: By Phil McKenna     Published: March 4, 2024      Inside Climate News 

MethaneSAT, a partnership between the Environmental Defense Fund, Harvard University and others seeks to combat climate change through enhanced greenhouse gas emissions monitoring.

The data collected from MethaneSAT will be publicly available in near real-time. Credit: MethaneSAT
The data collected from MethaneSAT will be publicly available in near real-time. Credit: MethaneSAT

Three thousand miles away, Steven Wofsy, an atmospheric and environmental science professor at Harvard University, who has overseen the satellite’s development since the project’s inception in 2015, described the moment as “like looking over the edge of the cliff.”

MethaneSAT is an 800-pound satellite that will monitor methane emissions from oil and gas fields worldwide and make the information publicly available in near real-time. The $88 million project, which its developers say is the world’s most advanced methane-detecting satellite, was funded by the Environmental Defense Fund and is the first satellite owned by an environmental non-profit.

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A satellite that could soon play a key role in combating climate change by monitoring methane emissions entered Earth’s orbit aboard a SpaceX rocket launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in southern California on Monday.

Three thousand miles away, Steven Wofsy, an atmospheric and environmental science professor at Harvard University, who has overseen the satellite’s development since the project’s inception in 2015, described the moment as “like looking over the edge of the cliff.”

“All this time we’ve been devoting a tremendous amount of time and energy to getting ready to do something,” Wofsy said at a launch party at Harvard, where a crowd of approximately 100 students and faculty gathered in the atrium of university’s recently completed Science and Engineering Complex in Allston on Friday. “As soon as that little guy goes into space, it’s showtime.”

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